Lagos Pop-Up, Wine Republic, and Red Table

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Nigerian food on the move, a new specialty wine shop in Excelsior, and a look at some of the offerings of the Red Table Meat Company in today’s edition of The Tap.

shepherd-song-tap-logo-final-keylineThe Tap is a biweekly feature created by the Heavy Table and supported by Shepherd Song Farm. “We raise 100 percent grass-fed lambs & goats traditionally, humanely, and sustainably.”

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Courtesy of Tunde Wey

Courtesy of Tunde Wey

Coming Soon to Minneapolis: Lagos Pop-Up Dinner (Tuesday, Nov. 11 – DATE CHANGED)

Detroit chef Tunde Wey (recently departed from revolver) is touring the country cooking Nigerian food, and Minneapolis is the next stop on his itinerary.

We caught up with him by phone on the Chicago leg of his tour and asked him why Twin Cities diners should check out his Nov. 11 pop-up dinner.

“The sort of person who’s attracted to this sort of thing is ready to try something different, and has sort of a swagger sensibility, and doesn’t need an explanation,” Wey says.

“But I will say what the food is not, it’s not precious,” he adds. “It’s really a hearty, authentic cuisine. At revolver, we had revolving chefs come in, doing the cuisine du jour, modern American fare, with all of its aesthetics and presentation and all that. And that’s all wonderful progressive food, but after doing that for a year, I became more and more enamored with the food that I grew up with. It has a real degree of technical skill, but it’s unpretentious. So I just went back home, you know?”

Wey is 31 years old and has been a professional chef for less than a year. He came to the United States in his mid-teens, living with an aunt who — along with his mother — gave him a grounding in how to prepare traditional Nigerian meals.

To this day, his family is his cooking school when it comes to the kind of Nigerian food he’ll cook in Minneapolis: “I’ll call my mom on the phone and ask, ‘How’d you make this again?’ I’ll call my aunt; I’ll call my cousin, and learn how the food is made. I’m learning by taste. That’s my training — my palate, my mouth.”

Wey says the tour is about the holistic experience, not a painstaking, flavor-by-flavor examination of the food.

“Devoting all this time to what food tastes like, ‘what is this note?’ takes a little bit away from what I’m trying to do, which is to get people together and eat, and to have fun,” he says. “The main thing is: come out and have a good time.”

Lagos x Minneapolis
Tuesday, Nov. 11, 6:30pm

Tickets $45
Location To Be Announced, BYOB

Jollof Rice / Rice Pilaf
Asun / Peppered Goat Meat
Goat Pepper Soup
Egusi/ Melon Seed + Spinach Stew
Fufu / Cassava Paste
Dodo / Fried Plantains

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Becca Dilley / Heavy Table

Red Table Meat Company Ramps Up

When we spotted local charcuterie king Mike Phillips (above) at the Mill City Farmers Market a couple of months ago, we had to pinch ourselves to make sure we weren’t dreaming: His Red Table Meat Company has been fighting through curtains of red tape over the past few years, and there have been a number of false starts. But the doors (at The Digging food-business accelerator space in Northeast Minneapolis) are open, and Red Table Meat Company products are hitting the market in force.

At the moment, Red Table is sourcing its pork from  five farms, including some well known ones like Hidden Stream, Moo Oink Cluck, and Pork and Plants. “We’ve been getting about 10 pigs a week,” says Phillips. “Since getting the [regulatory] green light on a lot of products, we moved [last week] to 15 pigs a week for the foreseeable future, maybe even up to 20 as soon as we can.” The Red Table space at The Digging has enough capacity to roughly double the company’s production, according to Phillips.

Red Table is making and selling a variety of products, with an emphasis on sausages in general and salami varieties specifically. “We have a number of recipes that we double up on,” says Phillips. “We have a recipe called Salbando, and we do it in a large format called Salbando Grande. The large format ages for a good three to four months, so the difference in flavors … you wouldn’t really recognize it, really, other than it has the same ingredients in the small-caliber salami. The nuance from the aging is pretty amazing.”

Courtesy Red Table Meats

Courtesy Red Table Meats

“The same is true with the Felino, the Crespone, and another small-caliber salami; they’re all the same recipe, but in a different casing,” he says. “The Felino is stuffed traditionally in a hog bung [casing], the Crespone is stuffed traditionally in the hog middle or chitterling, and the small-caliber, we do in a beef casing. They’re all three very different tastes because of the casings, which is really cool.”

According to Phillips, consumers looking for the broadest selection of Red Table products can check out Seward Co-op, France 44 (and their St. Paul Cheese Shop), and The Wedge & Wheel in Stillwater.

Courtesy of Wine Republic

Courtesy of Wine Republic

Wine Republic (Open)
287 Water St, Excelsior, MN; 952.283.1058

“An organic diet is very important to me and my family, and we feel, ‘Let’s just carry that through to everything we put into our bodies,’” says Patti Berg Judalena, proprietor of the newly opened Wine Republic in Excelsior.

“Everything in our shop is sustainable, organic, or biodynamic,” says Judalena. “That includes the spirits. We have a nice spirits collection building. They’re all natural, no chemicals sprayed on the wheat farms, for the whiskey. We’re also going to have gluten-free beer as well as organic beer and hard cider.”

The shop’s focus carves out an unusual niche, one that Judalena says her distributors are eager to help her maintain. “Our distributors are excited about our focus, and now they’re searching for wines for us that we can feature in our store that none of the other stores are going to have,” she says.

Courtesy of Wine Republic

Courtesy of Wine Republic

The store is planning to run a series of wine dinners with local restaurants, including one at the soon-to-open Victor’s on Water in Excelsior. Wine Republic will also team up with a caterer to offer in-home wine tastings, dinners, and parties, and additionally plans to host two wine-focused trips a year: one international and one national. The next trip is to the burgeoning wine region of Croatia, in June 2015.

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The Tap is the Heavy Table’s guide to area restaurant openings, closings, and other major events. The Tap is compiled and published biweekly by the Heavy Table. If you have tips for The Tap, please email James Norton at editor@heavytable.com.

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James Norton

James Norton is editor and co-founder of the Heavy Table. He is also the co-author of Lake Superior Flavors, the co-author of a book about Wisconsin’s master cheesemakers, and a regular on-air contributor to Minnesota Public Radio.

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One Comment

  1. FYI the Lagos dinner is Tuesday the 11th. The website actually lists both dates but I just confirmed it with them. Though why they are only doing a Tuesday dinner here and Friday/Saturday everyone else is a mystery.